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Home arrow Interviews arrow Nick Mason interviews arrow February 5th 2006 - Die Welt, Germany
February 5th 2006 - Die Welt, Germany Print E-mail

Published 5th February 2006 in Die Welt, Germany. Interview by Josef Engels, translated for Brain Damage by Jens.

How do you explain to the unsuspecting youth, what it was all about for Pink Floyd?

That is a question which is impossible to answer, because of the following reason: what Pink Floyd was about and still is about, has changed over the years.

Those twenty year old musicians, back in 1966, who dived into the music business with their high expectations and ambition are totally different from the guys in 1972 who recorded "The Dark Side Of The Moon". And those guys from 1972 were again completely different from those who released "The Wall" at the end of the seventies.

A theory says that in the sixties everything was increasing in size: hairstyles, debates, drug trips, guitar solos etc. Can you explain why?

The young suddenly had access to a lot of money. That was a complete change to their situation.

Before the war, you were a student and you showed respect for elderly people. Rock and Roll changed all that. Suddenly there were young guys everywhere who were successful in their jobs.

That change developed even more in the sixties. There were photographers like David Bailey, there was an enormous change in the fashion industry and also in the music industry. At the same time people started to become aware that money and success shouldn't be the only goal in life.

The flower power scene was born, which lasted into the mid seventies. I can remember a gig in Germany were students tried by using a VW bus and other devices, to force themselves access to the concert. They demanded free entrance and free music.

In your book you are telling us that the creative and alternative youth scene, being busy with attending happenings and concerts, completely lost track with reality and by doing so, they simply forgot to backup their careerist "flower power fighters" with their losing battle against politics.

Yes, I do write about them, about those who were expelled from the free love scene and so, later on, became member of the conservative Tory party. They became in control of society.

Are you suffering from a bad conscience? Didn't Pink Floyd write the soundtrack to "Escape from Reality"?

I think that none of us felt responsible for it. Looking back, however, we may have had some influence. The problem was: despite the fact that we were close to the London psychedelic underground scene, we had virtually no political intentions. We wanted to be a rock band. While everybody was parasitizing free love in London, we were travelling by bus towards Doncaster, for playing a concert.

Dealing with stage effects, the band was very creative and far ahead of others. Your lighting engineer used condoms for the effects...

We needed very thin latex and ink to use it on a spotlight to get a special fade effect. The outcome was a strange organic form. We used very simple materials in those days.

What was the most ridiculous gimmick that Pink Floyd ever used during live shows?

The most idiotic gimmicks we never used. They were far too ridiculous, so much so that they never could be used during a show. Like the huge crane, to be used during the last Pink Floyd tour, with it's moving arm packed with spotlights, to be placed just in front of the stage. If that crane had tumbled over, it would have killed half the band members.

Or the giant projector, which we had planned to take on tour. It contained a motor with a rotating speed of 40000 rotations/minute. The problem was that it never could be shut down, since that would cause the projector to explode. Transporting the projector wasn't possible with the motor running.

Another example: a balloon filled with helium gas, carrying spotlights. It was just a tiny balloon, capable of floating above the audience. Great idea. But what when the balloon escaped in the stadium?

With all these computers nowadays, Pink Floyd would have gained a lot of time. Aren't you annoyed with the fact that you were born too early?

It was good to slowly develop our talents, in sync with the development of new technology. In the sixties, there weren't many effects to choose from. Later in the recording studio, when we had access to many new machines, we needed ages to try all these new things out.

Do you think that a band exists, that is capable of following Pink Floyd?

Sure. It's very interesting to see how a band like "The Arctic Monkeys" are developing. Just at the moment when Rock and Roll seems to be dead, this band walks into the spotlight. A band, not being part of a TV show and not being casted. After all the Karaoke-pop music, they need people who write their own material.

The Wall will become a musical as well...

So I've heard from Roger Waters. That may become very interesting. Even become better than the original show. They could increase the use of special effects. I'm sure it will become a fantastic show.

Perhaps as close as the Broadway version of Monty Pythons "Holy Grail"?

I'm not sure, Roger would love that comparison... (laughing)

What event could bring back Pink Floyd on stage? Should the event even be bigger than Live8?

Something like Live8. If there was something like a huge peace process in the Middle East. Both sides, Israel as well as Palestine, should sign a real treaty. Where we could help that process, we surely would be there.

In the end, Live8 has proven that despite all of the differences between people, we can overcome them. None of us has been thinking after Live8 "This was a wrong thing to do". Let me be clear: Live8 doesn't mean that we all have become close friends again. Roger and I are friends again but David Gilmour wasn't thinking while hugging Roger "I've done something wrong over the last years". They still have their big differences in their opinions.

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